Thursday, March 15, 2012

Warmachine Bracket Final Four and [Spoiler] The Championship

The final four would all be good picks for my next army. As a consolation prize to the losers, I will start buying a few of their models to practice on while I paint the winner. There are two matches to resolve before the championship. Here is a look at round three:

Match #1 Gators v. Mercs
This is pretty tough call. Here are the advantages for Gators:
Close Combat. They are a dedicated close combat fighting force with some ambush options.
Cool Characters. I like all the warlocks, the Ironback Spitter, and Wrongeye.
Underdogs. I think most of the local guys would consider an all Gator force to be underpowered. This will force me to focus on good tactics.

And here are the advantages for Mercs:
Lots of Jacks. There is a wide variety of models for this army and can be fielded along other armies as well
Flexibility. Similar to the first, the army allows a wide range of play styles.

The Gators' main disadvantage is the small number of models available. Since the army I am making will be about 35 points, I will have to buy duplicate models or do some heavy converting.

The Mercs main disadvantage is that I just don't find them to be as cool as the Gators.

Win: Gators

Match #1 is Trollbloods v. Skorne
Here are my thoughts on the Trollbloods: They will be fun to paint and model. They have a wide range and can be done well in many different color schemes. They have a neat look and a variety of casters. I like the big Dire Trolls and would have to get several of them.

For the Skorne, they have a more limited color pallette, but a wider variety of creatures. The army has some nice "gotcha" abilities backed up with tough combat capability.

I have seen Skorne played, but not the Trollbloods. I have looked at both rulebooks and seen all the miniatures. The main advantage that Skorne has is in the variety of their warbeasts. Trolls will have to wait for another tournament. Win: Skorne.

And now, The Championship Match!

Sorry if this is short, but I have already listed my likes and dislikes ad nauseum. I would be happy with either of these armies, but right now Skorne just has a stronger stable of models. If Privateer releases a new Blackhide Wrastler in the next month or two I will probably change my mind, but what they have out now just can't beat all the stuff from Skorne. Plus, I love playing bad guys.

Win: Skorne!

Stay tuned for my next bracket, when I choose my first warlock...



Kingdom Builder Review

I picked up a new board game the other day and thought I would offer a review.

My game collection up here at the Beta facility is small but growing. I have Alhambra and Twilight Struggle, along with a few RPG resources for Deathwatch and Savage Worlds. In a pinch I can put together a game of 40K or Malifaux. I have really been in the mood for a good 4X board game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate). Back home, at the Alpha Site, I have Civilization, Starcraft, and Twilight Imperium. Rune Wars is another example, but it is not yet on the shelf. I like these kinds of games because you can combine all aspects of gaming, including building and research, expansion of an empire, role playing through alliances, and tabletop battles. Because of the interaction between players, each game is very different from the last.

At the FLGS I found several that seemed to fit the bill. First was Civilization. I knew it was what I wanted to play, but I held back since I already owned this one. Next was A Game of Thrones. I have heard good things about this one and I have read all the books. The problem was that it required 3 players and usually I only have one opponent here at the Beta Site. I needed a game that could be played with two. Also, sadly, few of my friends have read the books and the theme might fall a bit flat for them. Next, I found a game called Space Empires 4X by GMT. These guys also made Twilight Struggle, and I have enjoyed that game for the most part. The problem was that I wasn't blown away by the components or the board design. There also wasn't any fluff that I could sink my teeth into. For example, on the cover of Twilight Imperium there is a picture of many weird alien races posing dramatically against the sun. This one was just black and blue with hexes on a board. There were also no miniatures, which I feel are important in this kind of game. Reviews online are fairly positive, so it is one I will probably give a look to in the future. I settled on a game called "Kingdom Builder" from Queen Games

No one at the store could tell me anything about it, but it had a fairly high rating on Board Game Geek. From the description, it looked like a simplified 4X game that could be played in under an hour. It also supported play for 2-4, which was right on. The back of the box talked about building a kingdom and earning gold, so it looked like what I wanted.

The game comes with eight map tiles, which can be laid out in any order, four at a time, to create the game board. The board has terrain and features built in and is of fairly decent quality. Each player receives a bunch of little houses, representing settlements, and a scoring marker. There is a deck of objective cards that are dealt randomly to set up how the game will be scored. These vary from creating the largest group of settlements to the longest line of them and many other such variations on placement and map control. Certain features on the map grant you a special ability if you build a settlement next to them. A second deck of cards is composed of all the different terrain types featured on the board.

Game play is very simple. Each player draws a card and places three settlements on the terrain type indicated (forests, plains, canyons, etc...) All settlements must be adjacent to others if possible. This leads to some interesting tactics where players will try to block out a certain terrain type to allow them to start a new settlement area in a completely different part of the map. Players will get extra moves if they have captured any of the special features on the board. The game ends on the round when one player runs out of pieces to place. The scoring is resolved according to the scoring cards and a bonus is given for any cities that the players have captured.

The game is quick and fun, but it is not really a 4X game. It is really a worker placement mechanic with randomized scoring objectives. It felt like a tightened-up version of Carcasonne, except the map is out before the game starts. There is a nice competitive aspect to the game since both players are fighting to achieve the same objectives. I think this would be especially true in a four player game where real estate is at a premium. I liked that there were different map tiles and a number of different scoring cards. The artwork is nice and the components are of good quality. best of all, there are only about three pages of rules.

I would not rate this as a deeply strategic game, but it is nice as a warm-up or a party game since it can be played and reset very quickly. Veteran gamers could probably finish a game in about a half hour barring any analysis paralysis. It is fun, but not too deep. While I like the game, it was not really what I was looking for. Using the patent-pending D6G rating system, the average gamer will like this on a 4+, but 5+ if you were looking for a 4X game.



Warmachine Brackets Round 2

After yesterday's throwdown, 8 teams emerged victorious. This round will be a little tougher, since now many of my favorites are going to have to fall. Here are the current standings:

Gators v. Dwarves
Cygnar v. Mercs


Trollbloods v. Legion
Pirates v. Skorne

Match 1: Gators vs. Dwarves. This is a very tricky match. First let it be said that the old GW maxim is true "Dwarves are best." Over the years I have collected a lot of dwarves for various game systems and I even have a bunch of 40K Squats sitting on my painting bench. The Warmachine dwarves have a good look and look to be pretty tough, as is the norm with this race across all systems. I really like the Brun and Lug models, but none of the casters really trip my trigger. Also, the slow speed of the dwarves will really frustrate me over the course of a game. Access to lots of heavy Merc 'jacks is still pretty cool and their ability to shoot will be a benefit in the local metagame.
On the other hand, the gators have a lot going for them. I have never played an army of gatormen before and the idea is pretty appealing. I really like the look of some of the models and the warlocks especially. They have a variety of abilities from buff to debuff and area denial. I could also supplement the force with some Farrow (I think) if I wanted some variety. I don't yet have a dedicated close combat force and this one would be fun to play. The biggest weakness is in the selection of models. Privateer has been great about releasing lots of models pretty quickly, but I think the army still needs a few more to round out the heavies and the troops.
All in all I think the unique flavor of the Blindwater Congregation will win out. Win: Gators

Match 2: Cygnar v. Mercenaries
This one is actually pretty easy. Cygnar is well represented in our local gaming group and I can always borrow some models if I want to play them. Mercs are a bit more rare and they offer a lot of variety, allowing me to pick up units here and there and even use them alongside some other armies. Win: Mercs

Match 3: Trollbloods v. Legion
In the last round I listed my likes and dislikes of these two factions. Both have an interesting play style and are not present in our local community. I am going purely on looks for this one. While I like many of the Legion casters, some of the beasts leave me feeling a little "meh." On the other hand, the Trollbloods have a lot of character and  I think it would be fun to try and paint some tartan. Win: Trollbloods

Match 4: Pirates v. Skorne
It would be fun to do a Pirate army. I have tinkered with building some ships in the past for Warhammer and it would give me an excuse to make up some sweet dockside terrain. I like the idea of playing a swift raiding force with some unique abilities, although I already have that with one of my Cryx armies. The Skorne have a neat look, but I can't seem to get too excited about the warlocks. They have some sweet abilities, but I haven't found one I really like the looks of. On the other hand, I love all the different beasts that are available. The new heavy flying beast is particularly cool. Even if I never played a game with them, I wouldn't mind having a full collection of the beasts standing on a piece of terrain on my bookshelf. While I like some of the Pirate character models, the Skorne beasts are just too cool. Win: Skorne

Whew! There was some bloodshed behind the scenes on that round. Now we are down to the final four:

Gators v. Mercs


Trollbloods v. Skorne

Hordes has made a pretty good showing here, mainly because I already have several Warmachine armies and I want to branch out. In my next installment, I will resolve the final four and the championship.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Warmachine Brackets

One of my buddies has a bracketing system for determining his next Warmachine/Hordes faction. I asked him to put one together for me so I can start planning my next one. He sent me an extensive questionnaire on my play style, likes, and dislikes and compiled the results. What follows are my musings on his picks and my decision making process as I work through the bracket. Here we go.

Round One:
There should be some pretty easy picks here, as many of the factions I already own are here and can be eliminated swiftly.

The first match is between Dwarves and Farrow. I have played several games against Farrow and I like their play style. They have some nice combos and a they can be deadly. I have not played with or against any Dwarves, but they do have a wide selection of models that I like and I would have access to all the Mercenary warjacks, which are pretty sweet. The main benefit to playing the Dwarves is that I would be the only one with these units and it would be a good deal different from my other bands. My brother already has a ton of farrow, so I am going with the Dwarves on this match.

The second match is between Menoth and Cygnar. These are both pretty well represented among the local gaming community. I like Menoth's ability to thwart your plans and lay down lots of templates and flame. They have several casters I like and the rest of the line is pretty solid. This army seems to suffer a bit at range, but Warmachine is often decided in close combat anyway. Cygnar offers a different play style, with the ability to focus on range, close, or even combined arms. While all the major factions have plastic kits for their main warjacks, I feel that the Cygnar box truly gives you the ability to put together three very different 'jacks. The flexibility of Cygnar and their overall look will tip the balance in their favor. Win: Cygnar.

The third match is between Mercs and Circle. I love my Circle, but I already have this faction and the goal is to get something new. Win: Mercs.

The fourth match is a bye for Gators. They are heavily favored to win.

On the other side of the bracket we start with another bye for the Trollbloods. They have a pretty good shot as well, since I like their models. We will see.

The sixth match is between Retribution and Legion. This is a tough one. My brother has both of these factions as well and they both have a unique aesthetic. One of the things I like about Privateer is that they have broken out of some of the old fantasy tropes and created something new. Blind half-dragons and mecha-driving elves is not something we see a lot of outside of 40k. Both have a nice set of abilities and would be fun to play. Legion is going to push ahead here with its close combat punch and Lovecraftian imagery. Win: Legion.

The seventh match is between Pirates and Khador. Another easy one. I already have a bunch of Khador and the pirates are cool. Win: Pirates.

The final match is between Cryx and Skorne. I already have two Cryx armies. Win: Skorne.

So heading into round two we will have:

Gators v. Dwarves
Cygnar v. Mercs


Trollbloods v. Legion
Pirates v. Skorne

Tune in later for the thrilling results!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gaming Update

I got back to school a few months ago but haven't got much painting or modeling done. So what has been taking up my time? Lots of things actually.

I bought the board game "Twilight Struggle" and have been playing that quite a bit. There isn't much of a minis gaming group where I am at, so this has been a little better fit. It is basically a card-driven war game set in the Cold War for two players. It is quite good and has been scratching the "wargame itch" for me.

I have also been reading the George R.R. Martin series "A Game of Thrones." It is pretty good, but I despair about the glacial nature of the thing's plot. It never seems to go anywhere. I like reading about the characters, but after 5 books I thought some of them would get off their butts and actually accomplish something. There are still two more books due out and I will probably read them, but will wait for some reviews to come out first.

I have also been reading the "Vampire Earth" series by E.E. Knight. These are awesome. It is a post-apocalyptic survival/military epic about an alien-vampire ruled world and the freedom fighters who go against their tyrannical rule. Good action, good stories, and David Valentine kicks ass. Each story is its own narrative with a beginning middle and end. Almost the exact opposite of "Game."

I have also been catching up on Spike TV's "Deadliest Warrior." Too bad they have been cancelled before the fourth season. I will miss the completely unnecessary gore, cheesy announcements, and testosterone-heavy smack talk.

I did buy some Privateer Press Models to put together, but they ended up being an awful lot of work, so I set them aside.

I have been listening to a ton of podcasts as well. The Black Dog, Hypnobobs, D6 Generation, The Aethervox, and H.P.Lovecraft Literary Podcast are all excellent.

I am heading off on a little vacation next week but will try to get back to some of my old projects and get them finished before the rest of my papers and finals come due.




I shouldn't have pressed the button...